Bhopal: a Silent Picture

Written by Lauriston Brewster|

While wandering around Silver Street studios on Sunday for the last remants of FOTOFEST 2018 BIENNIAL (MARCH 10 – APRIL 22) I came across a harrowing multimedia installation. It was called Bhopal: a Silent Picture and it was set in a forboding train car painted in black. The installation was created by Samar Singh Jodha, an artist who uses his works to advocate for various development, human rights and conservation issues.

Bhopal: s Silent Picture

“CH3NCO” and “200c” the chemical compound of methyl isocyanate and the temperature of the gas cloud as it was emitted, respectively. (Photo: Lauriston Brewster/Bayou Current ©)


A Silent Picture documents the cataclysmic Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984, which remains the world’s biggest industrial disaster on record. 

In December of 1984, over 30 tons of toxic methyl isocyanate seeped into the town of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh (India) from the Union Carbide plant. 2,259 people died immediately and more than 25,000 have since died from the resultant exposure.

The 3D photographs in this forty-foot multimedia installation have been shot at the now sealed Union Carbide Plant that to this day poisons the soil, air and water of its surrounding areas. As viewers walk through the installations, discordant and low moaning and clanging sounds can be heard, creating an unsettling atmosphere.

Bhopal: a Silent Picture

Sepia toned 3D photographs of the Union Carbide Plant (Photo: Lauriston Brewster/Bayou Current ©)

More info from the installation:

“The images portray an eerie emptiness – comparable to the Nazi gas chambers of Auschwitz.

However, unlike Auschwitz, the perpetrators of this crime continue to walk free.

The victims – largely poor people, continue to be denied fair compensation, adequate health care or legal redressal.

Worse, they are forced behind a veil of indifference and enforced silence.

This installation also hints at this state of affairs with a shroud bearing names and file numbers of some of the victims’ that envelops them in anonymity.”

Activism (source: Wikipedia, 2018)

At least 14 different NGOs were immediately engaged. The first disaster reports were published by activist organisations, Eklavyaand the Delhi Science Forum.

Around ten local organisations, engaged on long term, have been identified. Two of the most active organisations are the women’s organisations—Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila-Stationery Karmachari Sangh and Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangthan.

More than 15 national organisations have been engaged along with a number of international organisations.

Some of the most important organisations are: